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Biden's New Policies Aim to Ease Path to Legal Status for Families of U.S. Citizens


On June 18, the Biden administration announced two significant new policies aimed at providing more accessible paths to legal status for certain long-time undocumented immigrants.

The first policy introduces "parole in place" for undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens. This protection prevents deportation and offers an easier route to permanent resident status. This initiative aims to help undocumented spouses stay in the U.S. without the risk of separation due to immigration processes.

Normally, undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens must leave the U.S. to apply for permanent resident status, facing potential reentry bars of up to 10 years. The parole in place program allows eligible spouses to apply for green cards without leaving the country, avoiding long separations and uncertain outcomes.

The Biden administration estimates that approximately 500,000 undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens and 50,000 stepchildren of U.S. citizens may qualify under this program.

The June 18th announcement states that people seeking parole in place under this new program must meet the following standards:

  • Have continuously resided in the United States since June 17, 2014.
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 17, 2024.
  • Have been legally married to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024.
  • Entered the United States without admission or parole and do not currently hold any lawful status.
  • Have not been convicted of any disqualifying criminal offense.
  • Do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
  • Merit a favorable exercise of discretion.

What is Parole in Place?

Parole in place grants "humanitarian parole" to undocumented individuals already in the U.S. It protects them from deportation and allows them to apply for work authorization if necessary. A very similar initiative has existed for years for families of U.S military personnel called "Military Parole in Place" and it has helped so many obtain lawful permanent residency.

How Does Parole in Place Simplify the Green Card Process?

Typically, to apply for a green card, individuals must either obtain an immigrant visa abroad or adjust their status within the U.S. Those who entered without inspection often face barriers and the risk of lengthy separation from family due to reentry bars. Parole in place removes these barriers, allowing spouses to adjust status without leaving the U.S.

Additional Policy for DACA Recipients and Undocumented College Graduates

The second policy streamlines nonimmigrant work visa applications for DACA recipients and undocumented college graduates. This includes easier access to visas like H-1B and O visas, which are essential for employment opportunities in the U.S.

The administration's plan includes updating State Department guidance on "212(d)(3)" waivers. These waivers help DACA recipients and college graduates obtain visas without facing the 10-year reentry bar.

Legal Challenges and Next Steps

The rollout of these policies may face legal challenges. Organizations have already expressed opposition and may file lawsuits to block the parole in place program.

Despite potential legal hurdles, these initiatives represent a significant step towards providing stability and opportunities for undocumented immigrants and their families in the United States.

Stay informed as more details on eligibility and application procedures are expected to be released in the coming weeks. These policies aim to support immigrant communities and address longstanding challenges in the U.S. immigration system.

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